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In my quest to better understand the realm of healthcare, I often encounter lots of observations and researches which often tickle my mind. One of the most interesting observations which I tend to agree with is the concept of ‘Mind over Medicine’ by Dr Lissa Larkin. She is a qualified physician practicing Integrated Medicine in US. In her book, supported by various scientific evidences, she shows that our health status is not just biological. She demonstrated how our health is determined by our relationships, employments, religious inclination, financial status and sexual satisfaction.

Let me explain further. Let us take hypertension (high blood pressure) as an example of biological disease for this discussion. Hypertension is affecting a third of Malaysian population. It is quite common for doctors to encounter patients who are practicing everything right and yet still suffering from hypertension. They may have ideal weight, exercising three to five times a week, look after their food, do not drink alcohol or do not smoke cigarettes and yet they have intractable hypertension.

In situation like this, according to Dr Larkin, the cause of the hypertension could be as simple as spousal abusive relationship. (Not all abuses are physical). The stressful relationship is producing hormonal changes in the patient body causing blood pressure to naturally increase and resisting all other means (including medication) to lower the blood pressure. So, the diagnosis for this patient is not actually Essential Hypertension but ‘abusive relationship’, which may need solution at that spousal level. In this case, hypertension is a mere symptom of a more sinister problem. No amount of Coversyl (anti-hypertension) can make that relationship less abusive.

While the inevitable solution may not necessarily acceptable in our community, Dr Larkin has no reservation to suggest that divorce is one of the permanent solutions to this ‘spousal-induced-hypertension’. In fact, in most cases, according to her, patients would volunteer the ‘prescription’ by saying ‘I believe I can only get better after getting a divorce’ or ‘I need a vacation, a new job, if only I can travel, to move to a country side and so on’

This has a very important implication in our health. Often patients waste money and time visiting doctors to solve problems when the causal is right staring in the eyes. Just this week I saw a mother who was complaining of persistent headache and tiredness. In consultation room, she brought along her three ‘hyperactive’ kids who are constantly screaming, running around and threatening to re-arrange my consultation room. While I was trying hard to work out her diagnosis, I myself slowly developing headache from the kids’ tantrums. It soon becomes apparent to me that she does not need any medicines, she need a whole month away from her kids!

Therefore, next time when you feel you are getting sick, assess your situation. Most of the time all you need is the doctor within you to diagnose the source of your sickness.

Article contributed by: Dr Rizin H Kusop. MBBS, MSc (Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Aesthetic Med), Dip. Family Med. ( Source is available upon request.